When Canada edged Chile 1-0 to take home the women’s field hockey bronze at the Pan Am Games, the team did so with a little local flair. Oak Bay High grad Maddie Secco, 21, is a midfielder for the women’s Canadian team.
“I would say there were two highlights for me at the Games. Firstly, our final game against Chile,” Secco said. “It was an extremely close game and we scored in the last 10 minutes to secure third place.”
Canada and Chile were relegated to the bronze medal game after losing their respective semifinals. The Canadians dropped a 3-0 decision to the United States while the Chileans lost 5-0 to Argentina. The U.S. topped the podium with Argentina earning silver.
“My second highlight was the recognition ceremony after winning a medal,” she said. “We were recognized in front of friends and family, alongside the Canadian men’s basketball team. They congratulated us on being the first female [Canadian] field hockey team to win a medal at the Pan Ams since 1999 and then played the anthem. [It was] very moving to hear everyone singing for Canada.”
During the Toronto-hosted Games, held July 10-26, this year’s Canadian contingent was the most successful one to ever compete at any Pan Am Games.
“The Pan Am Games was an incredible experience and certainly something I will never forget,” Secco said. “I always feel honoured to wear the maple leaf, but it meant that much more to do it on home soil. The Canadian fans were extremely supportive and the volunteers made everything run smoothly.”
Secco started playing field hockey at age 5. She also has played many other sports at a high calibre and still enjoys playing basketball and soccer as well as running
She said taking part in provincial competitions when she was younger helped her over the last few years of international play.
“I participated in two BC.. Summer Games, the first one in 2006 for soccer and the second in 2008 for field hockey. Both of these events were set up quite similarly to the Pan Am Games, just on a smaller scale,” she said. “They certainly gave me an idea of what a major games would be like. As well, they gave me a taste of how cool it is to bring together athletes of all kinds, from many different areas, to celebrate the excitement of sport.”
With the Pan Ams under her belt, Secco will return to Stanford University this fall for her final year of studies in human biology and field hockey. The university field hockey season starts this month and runs to November.
“Our team is looking quite good,” Secco said. “In terms of national team commitments, I am not sure what the schedule will look like. I am hopeful for some good opposition soon, so that we can continue to improve.”